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6 Tips for a Successful HMO Renovation

A lot of people have misjudged the costs, time and effort involved in HMO renovations.

However, this doesn’t mean you should also go over budget and take longer to complete your project.

Here are some of the ways you can make sure that you run a successful HMO renovation.

Work with a credible team

Look for builders, contractors or developers with a good reputation. Choose a team who doesn’t just say that everything will go perfectly once you partner with them, but a team that presents mechanisms and procedures WHEN not if things go wrong. In my all time investing in property, something always goes wrong. Anybody who tells you otherwise is either oblivious or in denial.

So beyond the “that will be fine” talk, what you’re looking for is someone who can show you how they handle situations when problems occur.

If cost did increase, did they show a way where they could help you increase the GDV as well or secure the sustainability of the property? Is the cost increase going to ensure minimal to no maintenance at all? That it’s going to save you money in the long run?

These are things people often overlook when going over the initial price to deliver a project.

Keep in mind that HMOs are highly trafficked properties; doors and cupboards are constantly being opened and utilities are used by people everyday so it’s prone to wear and tear.

Choosing the right team in the beginning is going to be worthwhile in the long run.

Getting the right quotes

When getting quotes, one big mistake is when people bring multiple builders to the site and they all start to price differently. Having different conversations about different ideas can create a huge difference in spec. The first one could price it at £100k and the other £200k. Which one is more accurate?

Another thing you should be cautious with is builders who quote without seeing the job beforehand. These conversations are not good for final accuracy and most of the time inflict unnecessary problems before construction even begins.

Now, this is where good and credible teams can help you define that spec. But, if you don’t have a relationship with a builder, you should be able to define it before engaging so they’re all pricing on the same thing.

And once this is sorted, it actually leads us to the next thing…

Doing your Due Diligence

Having people to quote on the same spec helps you to do your due diligence much easier and more efficiently. This gives you time to focus on what needs to be produced for the end product and what each team is pricing to deliver it.

This phase must also include the role of each member of the team. Are they providing Project Management or just the build? Will they take part in staging and finishing? Do they help in getting the project started like the architect or surveys? Have they offered any services in helping with the valuations? Are they taking care of building control or do they expect you to?

All teams operate differently, so if these things are not established prior to construction; it will cost time, money or both later on.

Now, as part of doing your due diligence, don’t hesitate to speak to other clients on how the team handled the problems that came up during their projects. In most cases, there might be one to two that will happily speak to you and tell you everything’s hunky dory but remember to ask questions that truly matter.

Everybody can do it when it’s going smoothly, but when things go wrong – that’s when the real professionals show up.

Agreements on communication

Formal Communication What are the time scales or forms of communication? Of course, informal methods such as whatsapp, phone calls or messenger are already a given. But, it’s recommended that you use an official form of communication in all aspects of the renovation journey. This may be a contract or any official document that lays down all agreements regarding the entire process, just so you have something to look and refer back to.

Are there official changes that need to be agreed on or official notices when you uncover things that were not foreseen in the beginning? Have you decided on how many phases, the timing and what has to be done in each phase of the project? This is especially beneficial so you can start planning when money can be borrowed, when marketing can start or when you’re able to refinance it if that’s your method.

Progress Report

It’s also essential to agree on how progress is being updated depending on your strategy. If you’re doing it in person, when can you do a site visit to start seeing results? And if you operate remotely, how often should you be receiving a visual or written report like pictures or videos.

You might think these are easy to do but it’s also very easy to neglect. That’s where having the right mindset and the right attitude comes into delivering successful results.


This agreement also serves to hold both parties accountable. What happens if delay occurs? Sure, unforeseen stuff happens but if it’s due to nondelivery or noncommunication, these will start to cost you more.

Too many times I’ve had construction delays without any consequences except, well, me paying more money and more time. In fact, that's one of the reasons why I co-founded Real Life Creative Construction – to be able to bring confidence, reliability and enjoyment while raising the standard of living, lifestyle and the community.

We work by partnering with people so there's a joint consequence. If it’s down to us, we're facing the consequence but if it’s the project owner, they’re taking responsibility.

All in all, you just want to agree these points up front.

Construction Phase

Just prior to starting construction, it’s wise to get the asbestos report depending on the age of the property. You will also be needing a damp report and a structural report if needed. It’s important to get these beforehand as they could incur additional costs on top of the original renovation fees.

If you don’t take care of it earlier, it eventually comes back to bite you in the form of time and money.

This is also where clear understanding of when each phrase will be completed takes place. It’s critical that any changes should be identified at the earliest possible point so you will have time to adjust if necessary. The later it goes on without identifying, the more challenging it becomes.

During this phase, it’s also good to pay the exact amount of money for the work that has been done to incentivise both parties. This becomes a positive reward that mentally motivates us to move forward and produce the end results on time and within the budget.

Finishing Stage

Coming into the final four to six weeks, getting everything aligned regarding furnishings and staging, photographs, valuation will ensure a smooth completion of the project. Never leave everything until the last minute or it becomes a mad rush and the quality of work is compromised.

And if you're anything like us running multiple projects at the same time, it might cause absolute chaos.

As you’re approaching the home straight, applying for the HMO license is a wise thing to do at this stage. Make sure that the building control is being signed off every step of the way. If it’s ready to get the final sign off, the HMO officer will approve that it’s up to HMO standards and regulations. This will include your fire safety, gas and electric certificate and any other associated items.

Lastly, providing internet in an HMO is essential. In the finishing stages, make sure you’re taking care of it as it’s very rare for a building to do so. As well as it’s in your account so you will have to get the ball rolling.

Completing a successful HMO renovation will determine how much it will cost you in the future on maintenance.

I’ve done many projects with varying different standards of construction, and a low level of work will produce more renovations and maintenance in the long run.

That’s why it all boils down to choosing a right and credible team that will work with you from start to finish. A lot of things can look okay on the surface but when it’s finished, it will cause more issues down the line. Whether it’s damp issues, plaster falling off, paint or wallpaper coming off, cheap fixtures and fitting that can’t withstand the high traffic of a HMO.

If you want to build a solid and sustainable business with a good product that people will respect when staying in, remember to tick off these 6 important items from your checklist.

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